W: Claudio Vargas (1-0)
L: Jason Marquis (0-3)
WAS HR: None
MIL HR: Craig Counsell (1)
Talk about a time where nothing comes easy for the Brewers. Despite being the beneficiary of 10 first-inning runs, Doug Davis was still unable to get into the win column, failing to go the five innings necessary to pick up the W against the Nationals. It was the first time in franchise history the Brew Crew scored 10 runs in the first frame, but Davis was hit hard again, this time for 11 hits and 5 earned runs in 4.2 IP. It seemed like Ken Macha waited as long as he could for Davis to get that third out, but by the time he called on Claudio Vargas to get out of a bases-loaded jam, the Nats had already cut the deficit to 5 runs.
As bad as Davis was, at least he wasn't as bad as Jason Marquis. The Nationals' starter was unable to record a single out in his start, allowing 7 runs on 4 hits and a walk. He was replaced by Miguel Batista, who was the one to give up a grand slam to Craig Counsell. By the time it was over, 14 batters stepped up to the plate in the first inning for the Brewers, but Milwaukee wouldn't score again until an 8th inning RBI double by Jim Edmonds.
Things got hairy in the middle innings for the Brewers as the Nats continued to chip away at the lead. Vargas was charged with two earned runs, but it was Manny Parra who surrendered a two-run double to rookie Ian Desmond which cut the Brewers lead to 10-7. Luckily, the Brewers were able to get out of the inning without any further damage thanks to a great throw by Carlos Gomez in center and a great block at the plate by Gregg Zaun. Carlos Villanueva closed the game out with 2 more nearly-flawless innings, allowing just a single hit.
A win is a win, but you'd hate to see the game end up being so close when you put up a record number of first-inning runs. The hope was that Davis would be able to finally get in a quality start against a Nationals squad resting some key players, but that wasn't the case. Davis' job in the rotation seems to be pretty safe, but you have to wonder how much more of this Macha will tolerate before he starts juggling the rotation around so Davis' spot can be skipped more often.
It's on to Pittsburgh now, and given the slow start to the season and the Brewers' history of making PNC Park a house of horrors, forgive us for not being optimistic about the chances of the Brewers finishing the road trip strong. Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, and Yovani Gallardo are lined up to make the starts.